There’s been a good bit of conversation today in the blogosphere about FEMA Director Michael Brown accompanied by quite a bit of ignorant smack talking from wannabe liberal talking heads about OCU Law School (where Brown graduated in 1981, and where I am currently a student)
Here’s a few samples of what some folks are saying…
The New Republic: Mike Brown’s padded resume – Univ. of Colorado at Boulder Law Professor, Paul Campos
To understand the Mike Brown saga, one has to know something about the intricacies of the legal profession, beginning with the status of the law school he attended. Brown’s biography on fema’s website reports that he’s a graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. This is not, to put it charitably, a well-known institution. For example, I’ve been a law professor for the past 15 years and have never heard of it. Of more relevance is the fact that, until 2003, the school was not even a member of the Association of American Law Schools (aals)–the organization that, along with the American Bar Association, accredits the nation’s law schools. Most prospective law students won’t even consider applying to a non-aals law school unless they have no other option, because many employers have a policy of not considering graduates of non-aals institutions. So it’s fair to say that Brown embarked on his prospective legal career from the bottom of the profession’s hierarchy.
DailyKos: FEMA’s Brown padded resume— hardly a lawyer, either (scroll down to see comments both positive and negative about OCU Law)
obsidian wings: Michael Brown— It Just Gets Worse — This blogpost has some good rebuttals to the anti-OCU smack talking…
To be fair, OCU’s law school is considered one of the best in the state, for what that is worth. It is a private school that pumps money into its art department, divinity department (it is associated with the United Methodist Church) and its law school. Now, I know that over the last decade it slid from grace for a while, but I also know that before that it was fairly well reagrded and its law school is still well thought of by most people in the state and area.
Gary:”So was it not an accredited law school before 2003, or not? If it wasn’t, what was the “regard” based upon?”
I would assume that it was a tendency to produce good lawyers. The kind that do the things you need lawyers to do pretty well.
I am no expert on where the best law schools are, and wasn’t reying to proclaim myself such. I just know that it had a reputation as a solid law school at least through a lot of the 80s. Enough so that they had no problem attracting students even given their relatively high cost (for the area, very high). And enough so that I had heard about it into the mid nineties. I am not saying that it is at the top of the law school eschelon, just that it isn’t some hack school in a tin shed by the side of the road. It DOES have a decent reputation and being from there doesn’t necessarily say anything about Brown’s abilites.
UPDATE It turns out that OCU School of Law did become a member of the AALS in 2003. However, at the time of Brown’s hiring in 2001, it was not a member.
I have e-mailed the author, Paul Campos of CU School of Law, and informed him of this.
Well all of that aside, here’s my take on OCU Law School (I am biased as **** I will readily admit). It is a good school and in many ways is the best law school in the state. On the positives, it has a solid curriculum, quite a few excellent professors (prospective and current students are welcome to email me to request my list of who is good and who ain’t), a vigorous student life (we have something like 30 or 40 student organizations), a fairly diverse student body (unlike OU… the last graduation I attended over there was whiter than anything I’ve seen in a long time), and an administration that is proactive and willing to engage with students on their concerns. (one sterling example was last year when the law school responded positively to some of the demands that our National Lawyers Guild chapter and the Lesbian and Gay Law Students Association made concerning the Solomon Amendment)
But most of all, I appreciate the fact that OCU gives students a chance who would not make it in to the top tier law schools (in many cases not because of a lack of abilities, but rather because they had to sacrifice their undergrad grades because they had work and family responsibilities), both through their admissions policies as well as their having a night school program (which is pretty rare these days at other schools).
Sure the school has its problems… it costs way too much (but what private school doesn’t), it has way too many spoiled out-of-state rich kids (a minority thankfully, but they still are annoying as all get out), and it has a few faculty members who can’t teach their way out of a bucket. (but who I assume can’t be removed because of tenure). But those problems are not uncommon at other schools. (and I won’t blame OCU Law for educating Congressman Istook. He probably thought what he learned in Con Law was part of the great liberal conspiracy)
So all of that is to say that the liberal blogging elite needs to get their story straight (as does Professor Campos as the University of Colorado.)